Little Sparrows

Madelie suddenly realised she must be feeling better.  Or rather, on consideration, as she was singing along with the radio, happier.  She could feel herself jiggling with the music as she peered into the wardrobe and ran her fingers along the shoulders of the hangers and their draped clothes.

“This little piggy went to market……” as she twisted the cream and chocolate crimplene dress for a fuller view before moving on, “This little piggy stayed at home……..”. As she moved on to a purple square-necked cotton shift, briefly, before alighting on the orange trouser-suit and with a “wee, wee, wee” deftly unhooked the hanger and settled the suit smoothly on the bed.    A simple white-collared blouse followed though she had more difficulty over a choice of tie.  Three were laid over the orange jacket in the hope that one claimed her attention most.

Pleased at making these decisions she looked out of the window through the large-patterned net and at the sun creeping above the houses opposite.  The chimneys drew black shadows along the terrace of sloping slate roofs and the nearest added the skinny shadows of the television aerials.

Maybe it was the rising sunshine that had lifted her above that black line in her mind under which she had been hiding for so long.  Hiding?  Yes, she had been hiding, it felt like it.  But what from?

She folded her arms and took a step closer to the glass and saw some sparrows dipping into the gutter opposite, reappearing with tufts of lichen then disappearing in a flurry of wings.

She looked down at the thin red streaks on the inside of her left arm, just below the elbow.  Stared out of the window again and lowered her folded arms a little, hugged them tighter to her ribs so her breast hid the marks.  The sparrows returned and busily tussled in the guttering and flew off again as each grabbed some packing for a nest.

Madelie had almost lost that sunshine moment but breathed it in again as a cloud shifted in the breeze and a shaft of sunlight hit her eyes making her turn away from it.   The movement brought the radio back into focus and “didn’t we have a lovely time, the day we went to Bangor!” made her smile again and back to dressing.

Fresh underwear stepped into,  bra settled into and hooks briefly struggled  with.  Sitting on the edge of the bed she folded first one leg of the tights over her hand then her toes into the toe of the nylon and unwound it over her foot to knee then repeated the operation before standing and adjusting the ridged waist-seam up to her hips.  Finally checking, straightening and smoothing the whole legs.   On the whole, she thought, tights were more comfortable than stockings, unless you snagged a leg, got a hole, then you had to bin the lot.  With stockings you stood a chance of having  a spare that matched.

Next was the blouse. Still smooth from being ironed though not that slightly crisp feel had it been freshly ironed.  Definitely not warm like straight off the ironing board!   She bent her head to watch her fingers button the blouse from top to bottom and brush away imaginary creases.

The radio chattered, early morning, bright and breezy cajoling from the ‘dj’ before another record, “now it’s time for ‘Mott the Hoople’ ” and the music slid into her head again.

Foot and leg, slight wobble, other foot and leg and she drew the orange trousers up high and adjusted her hip so she could pull the side-zip up then hook-and-eye the waist-tab securely.

She looked down at her flame-orange legs and indecision crept in. “Too bright?”  She had been a shabby dresser for so long that this was a dramatic step too far, she feared, briefly.

“No,” she said  aloud, “I’ll match the sunshine!”  And she turned to decide on the tie.

End over, hand over, round and under and through, eventually she got the rhythm and directions right and looked at herself in the mirror again to adjust the tie.   It was one of the newest style. Narrow Italian silk and design of bright horizontal bars of colour that eventually repeated after a scattering of red, white, green, yellow, orange, blue.

After a final easing the knot at her neck and removal of a defiant piece of fluff from her trousers she    Retrieved the jacket from the bed and eased into and buttoned it. Looked in the mirror and undid the buttons. More satisfied this time she left the room, grabbed her bag, checked for keys then rushed out of the little flat to try to gather some lost time.

Her rushing from the door down the short path and turning to briefly jog into town flushed the sparrows out of the hedge whisked them back up to the guttering in a series of squawks. Within a few steps Madelie slowed to a brisk walk and the sparrows had drifted back into the comfort of the hedge.

Walter didn’t recognise Madelie.

“Hi! Mr policeman.”

“Mornin’ …….”. No more than a word and a half-raised arm as the woman in the orange trouser.-suit walked smartly passed him. He watched the brightly coloured figure swinging away from him, her short black hair sculpted to her head. She turned the corner but he failed to recognise the side-on figure and features as she moved out of view.   He thought no more about it and went back to running his eyes around the street.  “Being observant” his sergeant called it.  So he continued walking, enjoying the sun warming the fresh morning with his people-watching and eaves-dropping on his way to a tea-break in a local cafe.

He too turned the corner, stopped briefly to click his radio and let the control room know he was having his break before turning the speakers volume down to a less startling level and entering his usual cafe.  The man behind the counter called a greeting and promised to bring the tea and sandwich to Walter, as usual.

“Thanks,” he called out and looked to his seat at the window.  The girl in the orange suit  was at his table in the window and he hesitated to go there.   She smiled at him, waved him to her and then he recognised her as Madelie, one of the irregular customers at the Jolly Puritan pub.  She used to sit near him, out of the way of the more effusive drinkers and darts players but more recently perched on a bar-stool and chatted with Angel working behind the bar.

“I didn’t recognise you.” He said, sitting opposite.  Her coffee was delivered and “I’ll bring your tea and sarnie” said to Walter by the man before he dashed back behind the counter to the kitchen.

“Good.” She said decisively to Walter. “I decided to change my wardrobe like I’m changing my outlook.”

“You mean from drab beatnik to flower-power girl?”  he meant it as a compliment but she looked at him blankly, stopped the grin before it appeared at his somewhat behind-the-times remark.

Madelie smiled inwardly as she forgave his comment.   “Not so much that. More that I decided I should try the happy, smiley person in me instead of miserable and mopey.  I woke-up this morning and today I changed into a brighter me.”

“You can say that again.”  He said. “In the pub you match all the shadows, dressed in that orange you can be seen for miles.”  Walter felt it lacked a complimentary feel so added, “You look great!”

Silence as his tea and sandwich were placed on the table.

Embarrassed, he took to stirring his tea then gave attention to his bacon sandwich while Madelie looked outside and watched the pigeons, no they were doves, trailing along the kerb bumping each other as they chased invisible crumbs.

“I’m just here for a quick breakfast break.” He spoke to break the silence.

She turned back to Walter and felt again how reassuring she found his presence with his solid form, especially in the safe police-uniform and his not unattractive face. He had let his hair get a bit longer since she had seen him, more over his ears than tightly shaved round them. Even his side-burns had been allowed to grow, she noticed.  Madalie surprised herself by thinking he looked much more fun now than when he had walked her home after the night in the Jolly Puritan. “Perhaps he has decided to go for flower-power!” She smiled briefly at this thought, echoing his out-moded imaging.

Walter caught her smile and passed one back, which they both held as their eyes also smiled to each other.    He broke away first, taking the serviette and wiping at the grease on his fingers. Not completely successful he shook his head sadly and took out his handkerchief to wipe a finger. He was relieved it was a clean one, if she actually noticed!   He quickly stuck it back in his pocket.

The young woman watched him over her coffee cup and sipped at it as he looked back at her.

“Time for me to go. I think of this as fifteen minutes community work as well as breakfast, you know.”   He stood and picked his helmet off the floor and adjusted it straight and strap tucked neatly under his chin.

“I didn’t realise I was your social work” she smiled up at him.

“No, no, that’s not what I meant” concerned he leaned on the table, prepared to sit and explain.

Madelie stopped him with a hand put on his, “I was joking,” she said up to him, “Its nice to see you.

Let’s talk in the pub next time. We can put the juke-box on and annoy them with the Stones or Bob Dylan.  They’ll all ignore us then.”

He relaxed a little. She moved her hand off his.

“Yes, that would be great. See you at the end of the week. My shifts change Thursday so, Friday then?”

“It’s a date!”

He nodded, “See you, then. Bye.”   Did she mean a date? As in date?  He paid for his meal, gave her a surreptitious wave as he walked passed her to the door.  Outside, as he walked on she returned the wave.  The two ring-doves hopped and flapped a few yards away at the policeman’s sudden appearance then settled to strutting and pecking again as he proceeded on his beat.

Madelie had suggested the meeting in the pub on a bit of a whim.  She often saw him at the pub, sometimes sat next to him but they rarely chatted except when it was a quiz or darts night.  On the latter it was more a shout than chat to get any words over the clamour of the players.

More recently she had perched herself on a chair at the bar when Angel was working.  At least  they could talk in the quieter moments.  Angel had become such a good friend. ‘Actually’, Madelie admitted to herself, ‘Angel helped me climb out of the black, lonely hole I was in.’

She went to the counter, purse in hand but, “The copper paid for yours too” added another little shaft of sunlight to her day.

The day breezed along as sunnily as it had started.  Working in a shop kept her busy. Meeting and greeting customers was sometimes daunting but often it was young women around her age and younger that were easiest to talk with.  The best parts was when she was able to help them chose from the new dresses that blossomed round the shop. Mary Quant was on everybody’s lips and bodies, for that matter.

At lunch-time several clutches of noisy girls came to rush their break in the dress-shop in preference to eating.   The newest and brightest dresses hung from the current mannequins on the staging in the windows. One or two models scattered on plinths next to the rack of special design or label, their backs to the rack where the carefully crafted pinning would be undetected down the back of the dress.  From the the front the nipping gave a glowing elegance to the dress despite the vacant chalk eyes and bald head.   Along one of the back walls stood the older models covered in pinafore and printed cotton. Large flowers or blocks of Parisian street scenes flowing down to the shins but failing to detract from the armless and headless upper reaches of the model.

The girls would come and go as individuals, the door opening and ringing the bell like an old bed-ridden aunt who is necessarily impatient for attention. Repeating as the door closed. In a small town most people grow-up together, young newcomers often getting whirled up with new friends.  Leaving school and first jobs means catch-up time when they meet and where better than a dress shop full of the latest, brightest and shortest clothes?

Labels, nippy copies. Bright colours and acid designs. Boucle with its softness and crimplene galore with its myriad of colours and prints.  Mary Quant held apart from Biba, or gingham versus Mondrian next to touches of Monet and Picasso.  The whole shop could echo with giggles and gossip as they dared each other to the lowest V or most showy thigh.  Pleated skirts that flew as they moved or denim that hugged and pleaded with outrageous zips.  Sometimes one would be dared too far and she would buy and hug the bag excitedly with an “I’ll wear at the next party!”  Or “I darent show my dad nor my mum for that matter” even a “Roy won’t know what hit ‘im.  I will have to keep me knees tight” and many variations on the theme.

Lunch time passes and the flocks of chattering girls drift away.

Madelie’s day moves along too and the early morning lady swaps brief notes and gossip with the replacement afternoon assistant.  Madelie, working a middle shift, as it were, makes them all a mug of tea, including the owner who arrives, chauffeured by her son in his new car.  He calls them all outside to coo over his vermillion, open top, Austin Healey Sprite.   “Best car I’ve ever had,” he chirps, “mind you I nearly got the new Mini but I was too cramped driving. This one’s only a two-seater but there’s more room.”

“He forgot to say his old car was a Ford Anglia!”  Said his mother. “He only got this to annoy me; and attract the girls.”

“Right on both counts.” He responded, “Can I take you home, mrs Emersby?” and opened the door for her.  She got in with a little difficulty, hoicking her skirt up higher than intended and trying to pull the hem over her knees after sitting down; failing and resigning herself to seeing her knees within worrying closeness to the gear leaver as he curled himself back into the drivers seat.

She started to wave but gripped the edge of the door as he lurched away.  He flung a ‘sorry!’ her way as he changed gear and they dashed off, the remaining women turned back to the shop.

“I must say, you’ve taken to brighter colours like a duck to water.”  Madelie was appraised by the owner as they stood behind the small counter. “And you make a fine mug of tea.” She took a mouthful and spoke again, a tender tone replacing the jocular, “And you’re smiling a lot more.”

Madelie took a slow sip from her mug and considered.  She watched as a couple hesitated outside, the girl quickly studied the mannequin’s dresses in the window, pointed at one and was ushered away by the young man at her side.  After a few steps she stopped, he stopped and shrugged as she pushed through the door. She moved for a closer look at the dress and he found a nearby lamppost to lean on and watch the traffic flow while he waited.

“Yes,” said Madelie, I do smile more. I suppose one smile just brings on another.” She turned and looked at the older woman. “Thanks.”

No need to recall the darker days of the last few months.  She had turned a corner and realised that music was still playing and new friends were better than the old.  She still missed the black jumper and cardigan and one day she would even dig them out.  Perhaps that little Chinese lady had been right!  Even the policemen were nicer these days.  She put her mug down.

“I had better get on and change these ladies.”   And proceeded to select the new blouses and jumpers for the assorted torsos around the shop walls.

…………..

PC Walter Copper’s day had proceeded in a similarly innocuous way.  He paced his way along his beat, stopping, chatting and observing and by lunchtime had worked his way back to the station.  A quick lunch break in the canteen and then a short time filling in his day-sheet, wishing he had more than a couple of memos in his pocket-book.  No actions other than a brief companionable chat with old Joe the tramp and a brief word on the time of day with several of the old chaps sitting outside on a bench sunning themselves.   A smile and cheery greeting from Winnie the new WPC at the station as they passed; he off home and she arriving for the evening shift.  He cycling, she walking.

A few minutes later and he was wheeling his bike to his front path and the shed at the side where it stood.  He tried to shut the low gate by leaning sideways whilst holding the bicycle saddle to keep himself and bike more or less upright. Just reaching, he pushed the gate and it crashed on its post and latch before catching on its rebound.  The noise of the clash scattered a ribbon of shouting sparrows out of the hedge and into the tree of the neighbour’s garden.

“Sorry spadgers,” he muttered, regained his balance and pushed on to park his bike and go indoors.

The house was sadly quiet as he sat to wait for the kettle to boil.  It took a long time for the water to bubble and the steam to build up enough pressure to push through the whistle on the wide spout.

He sat watching the kettle, knowing he shouldn’t.

“That’s another day without a story to tell.” he thought, “Except maybe the sparrows.”

 

 

Burnthorpe,  Madelie Carew,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coping with Crisis: A Graph Review

Coping with crisis:   Learning lessons from accidents in the early years

by          Bernadine Laverty & Catherine Reay

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A Graph Review : good consistent level of information and style:  50-56

 

coping-with-crisisFeatherstone (Bloomsbury) publication,  2016        paperback   £18.99

9781472917287       177pp,

Includes diagrams, many useful links and index.

The coverage is defined as for ‘all staff working with children in settings registered on the Early Years Register and the Childcare Register’.     The focus is on real accidents and situations and looks at what went wrong to try to eliminate its causes. Their is also considerable information and advice on the regulations on safety and reporting of accidents.

Basic development of babies and young children are listed.  Descriptions of real accidents are given throughout the different subject areas and consequences. Each Followed by a ‘Back to the team’ checklist that offers needs and actions under the headings of: Plan, Do, Check, Act.     Different ‘accidents’ have differing suggestions for each heading as basic examples.  If these are used as initial safety checklists then additional action points could be included to cover such as details required by contractors, information/ notices for staff, parents and so on.   The importance of assessing and providing safe environments should be a continual part of all staff training as well as a key person. Safety is a priority but so is reflection after difficult events.

The thoroughness and concern of the authors speaks volumes as they highlight each example of accident with additional known children who have suffered.  They also point out that gathering full statistics was not feasible at the time as reporting level was a variable regulation in parts, e.g. Visitors.  Ideal for small units and individuals as well as growing or bigger ‘units’.  The age and range covers childcare, nursery, reception class but not apparently much older. The child’s abilities and reactions my change in age but the thinking behind the checklists is still relevant as they move up in Primary years. Indeed the range of  ‘crisis-management’  expands rapidly as children move into years five and six upwards. This book may still be a good starting point as reference for new staff with its attitude to reflective practice and use of guidelines while attendance to more medical courses will add the extra dimensions required.

A short section of ‘Key points’ is available as well as ‘On Reflection’ which covers areas to be considered after any accident.  One area that seems to consistently appear is on parental information given on such as the ‘inquisitiveness’ or  physical ability, allergies and so on that should be noted and known by all staff.  This is where the checklists provided can give a solid start to the thinking process required to improve any failings in equipment or procedures, including training.

The book covers many aspects on accidents: with equipment, scolds and burns, trapped fingers, choking, falls, infections, and others, even near-misses.     This review may make it seem the book itself highlights all the dangers and is just depressing and off-putting.   Well, partially, but in the real world accidents do happen no matter where children are and this book may well be the first to highlight the rules and regulations of safety and reporting of accidents in Early Years settings.

And positively to offer systems to pre-empt accidents as far as possible and to minimise failings in all areas.  Being prepared is what it is all about because we all know that in the best of circumstances accidents still happen1

for books and prices:   www.BooksEducation.co.uk     

subject:  education

Paul Nash at Tate Britain; Edward Bawden at Higgins Gallery

Paul Nash, Tate Britain Exhibition,   Feb 2017

Just managed to catch the exhibition two weeks before it closed. Typical me!

We visited shortly after the David Hockney exhibition opened, which seems to be hugely successful already but were pleasantly surprised at the numbers visiting Nash.

I knew some of his work as a War Artist, probably the most obvious ones!  Also some he did of/at Dymchurch and maybe a couple of ‘scenic’ works.  For me the exhibition was brilliant in moving through the years as he worked and showing his origins as an artist and all through his developmental styles over the 30-odd years of his career.   He trained as an artist and it was pleasing to read that he encouraged his brother to paint too, who also became well known and still is.

What surprised me, was some early poetry Paul wrote and later some illustrations for a collection of war poems.  Most artists then and now do book illustrations and jackets but his had passed me by.  I always like woodcuts and their like for the finite definition on the page.

nash-early-workHis very early work and influence was William Blake’s art and poetry but he moved on, developing (changing) his style and several works show a concentration on watercolours and local scenes, including a clump of three Elm trees at the bottom of his childhood garden.  I fear they will have been killed off by Dutch elm disease many years ago but at least they will have survived in another form at least as Nash did several studies of them.

It’s always a great pleasure to me when I can make some sort of connection and it was happily made when I came across one in his most recognisable styles (for me), what I call his ‘lumpy’ style which is moving towards his method as a War Artist in WW1 but, unsurprisingly, more relaxed and summery; landscapes of Ivinghoe Beacon and another nearby view.

Following on into his so recognisable war paintings ( esp. We Are Making a New World, 1918) and it’s elements of cubism.   Following works showed how in the following years he was picking up and experimenting with artistic movements from the continent.  Surrealism found a long resonance with him, as in ‘found’ art, dreams and now including the media of photography and collage.

His work as a War Artist in WW2 didn’t find favour with the War Office but his movement towards ‘Objects in strange places’ can be seen in his pictures of crashed fighter planes and into abstract and symbolism over the following few years before his death. ( back to Blake in thinking if not quite style.)

totes-meer

Imperial War Museum Collection

 

His most famous painting is probably Totes Meer, painted 1940-41 and residing in tate Britain but alongside this I would put Battle of Germany 1944 as it is seemingly more abstract and softer in tone than the former but powerful to stand before and understand the ‘design’.

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Battle of Germany. Imperial War Museum

 

 

voyages-of-the-moon

Voyages of the Moon

My favourite of the non-WW1 or Dymchurch series (many of which I like, such as The Shore1923, but their emotional weight is a bit heavy en-masse) is probably the abstract from his later period but before WW2;  Voyages of the Moon 1934-7…….  though I have to hark back to second-place for Ivinghoe Beacon.

The last two of the exhibition highlighted his interest in the significance of the sun and moon throughout his career.  Always of mystic appeal as seen in his early work similar to Blake but here on a much larger scale in oil of visionary landscapes and the pre-eminence of sun and moon. Landscapes that include a traditional activity transformed into a wheeling sunflower/come burning sun tearing down the hillside instead of the sky  Another with aerial flower composition to link with his long held interest in flight.    It was evident that his feelings of a ‘life-force’ in inanimate objects stayed with him all his life, a belief in the genius loci  (spirit of place).  Something that many people have an awareness of but perhaps are less willing to accept in themselves.

As always I like his b&w illustrations, woodcuts and the like but they don’t have the influence of his bigger works.  There was perhaps too few of these  variations of his work but the need for display cabinets  would have distracted from the movement around the room.   However, the Tate Britain website says they have 205 of his works. I dont know how many are on display but well worth searching them out on a visit now the particular exhibition is ended.

The fact that he was brought up in South Bucks and is buried in a Langley churchyard, both but a very few miles from where I was brought up is another connection I was happy to have made.  What is sad is the length of time it has taken me to find out!  However there must be a million things I don’t know and have never missed knowing so I have an awful lot to look forward to!

Edward Bawden at the Higgins museum and art Gallery, Bedford

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The Sir William Harpur Gallery

Just had a browse around the Higgins Museum and Art Gallery where there has been a huge refit and re-design of the gallery and museum. The  Edward Bawden exhibition includes items he gifted from his studio contents and the other display is of a collection of prints: ‘Master of Print’  mostly of modern artists (Picasso et al).  It is select but of superb quality and interest.  I have to wish there was a bigger display of Bawden’s work but the space is limited.  The Bawden exhibition does’t finish until end of January, 2018.

Jump on a train to Bedford and spend a good hour or three there.  Aim for the artworks but the museum side will also steal time from you for its room settings in period style and collections of everyday items as well as assorted art designs from around the turn of the 19th century and forwards.  Not forgetting the local archaeology and town development of industry and people as you walk through.

Two gallery visits in a week eh!

View from a Walkie-Talkie; the Sky Garden, London

View from a Walkie-talkie

The Sky Garden, a view of London in the round.     Or: Daze out in London

If you get off the tube at Bank and exit via Lombard Street you can see the building known as the Walkie-Talkie looming, or is it leering? over the skyline a short distance away.  I have to admit to disliking its external shape despite its probably well-known and understood architectural and aesthetic positives.  It is purely the height and shape I dislike, sorry.

You have to zig-zag across streets and round corners to find the entrance to the building as it is  not quite as close as you thought. When you arrive at its foot you can tell it is a giant footprint but the entrance for the Sky Garden is a small lobby with smiling guides (guards) to check you have tickets and direct you into the queuing chicane where your ticket is scanned and you walk along to the security check-in.   Don’t be like me and have change in a pocket, a leather pouch on my belt that has a Press-stud closure and rivets on the belt hooks!  If you remember to remove all these (as I did), as well as coat and phone and rucksack you may find yourself overtaken by those less encumbered as you try to collate yourself!     Another option is to forget and raise the detector alarms as well as hackles of those helping you through the system.  Happily, in London I have only had pleasantries on such occasions but not so at the few airport mis-haps………

I am not good at heights, I darent go on the slightest of exposed climbs or paths despite bravado or wishful enthusiasm.  Luckily I am now old enough to be open about it and was promised plenty of space between me and the glass walls, even a garden area to hide in.  I had no idea what to expect as I had not even thought about checking this visit out on the internet and stepped into the lift with about twelve other people.  Within a few seconds we stopped, I hadn’t realised we were moving, and we all stepped out.  A fascinatingly fast ride for the storeys we had risen.

skygarden-left

wordparc: view from Sky Garden

Good gracious, I was promised space but had not expected football pitches almost, with a large coffee shop and many scattered tables in front of a huge glass wall and revolving doors leading out to what must be the biggest verandah (nice old-fashioned term) in width and length along the front of the building.  Actually it was the size of a mall’s marble plaza or large, high auditorium.  Steps on both sides led you upwards again through sub-tropical vegetation and beside the glass walls with London sitting all around.  The steps led up to a fully fledged restaurant plus another viewing area behind it.  With beautiful wooden seating and ledges along the back wall (of glass).  This time with a view that included the Gherkin.

gherkin

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Yes, I did venture out on the verandah, yes I did almost approach the edge with its high wall and higher glass wall atop.   And eventually I stepped to the handrail and looked out on the wonderful view whilst keeping a firm hold of the cool stainless rail.   I suppose I can regret that the sun didn’t glint off St Paul’s as it sat so far below us.  Nor did the Shard look quite so ethereal in the light-grey covered sky and background of London buildings.  You could see St Pancras, KIngs Cross and Waterloo railway stations.  The ubiquitous BT Telecom Tower was but a small matchstick.    Alexandra Palace sat almost on the horizon and assorted blocks of offices or flats littered their way out to the skyline.

skygarden-wide

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Those few steps outside where the breeze slipped over the glass gave you the impression of actually being outside and not on an almost enclosed balcony made the view of the river, its assorted boats and all its vagaries of buildings and streets, look untidily impressive.

The Tower of London, quite imposing from close quarters, was peered down on and its then brown shadowed walls looked compact and enclosing, but small.  Such is the perspective of time and place, I suppose.

So there it is.  A dramatic view enabling much of London to be seen if you know where to look and the weather works for you.   Maybe they will decide on having a model or a map somehow identifying  some of the landmarks that are visible.  Especially for the tourists, who seemed in the majority.  No doubt it would have to be a touch-screen virtual map with the views overlaid with tags of information.   Problem might be if it became more popular than actually looking at the scenes and guessing!   As the tickets are few and far between, snapped up quickly when released for Londoners, it is not an easy place to visit.  Well worth it though, even the coffee.

thames4

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Another few seconds in the lift and we were out as if from another world and having a walk along the Thames before shrugging off the now dampening weather and ducking into the side streets again to find a coffee-cafe in one of the many railway arches.  Here the coffee was delicious and their home-made cakes and open sandwiches were all a ‘must go back for’.

Question:  Where was it?  Looks like another day trying to track it down!

Dyspraxia: Dr Amanda Kirby; Graph Review

Dyspraxia,   Developmental Co-ordination Disorder

by    Dr Amanda Kirby                                            A Graph Review

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Souvenir Press   978 028563512 8.         paperback.         £12.99

8th reprint, dated 2009.

218 pp, including glossary, index and directory of resources.                         Plus numerous, gently humerous, but accurate line illustrations.

dyspraxia-a-kirbyThe notes on the back cover highlight this book as ‘a parent’s guide from pre-school to adulthood‘.

In the introduction the author confirms the aim towards explaining to parents, aiding their understanding and potentially how to help the development of their children with the varying degrees of poor co-ordination.  She is also well aware that teachers need to understand and have  a working knowledge of handling children with this difficulty even if not specifically diagnosed.  This book will certainly give both information and help to teachers.

Amanda Kirby is a former GP and Medical Director of the Dyscovery Centre, internationally recognised and published widely as well as having lectured to over 20,000 teachers.  And first -hand knowledge with a son with dyspraxia.  (Looking on web shows Dyscovery Centre as a unit of the University of South Wales, UK).   Clearly written, helping to understand and offering many helpful tips on the various difficulties through childhood to adulthood, for families living with levels of these assorted disorder.

‘Dyspraxia’ also points out that adults may well have degrees of dyspraxia without having been diagnosed but are coping with its associated difficulties.

The book begins with a brief explanation and description of dyspraxia and potential effects within a family.  Frequent samples are included throughout to give realistic views of problems and observations from within sufferers and family members. From pre-school right through schooldays and into adulthood she offers examples of difficulties and tips for the ‘helper’ and individual with the condition.

The chapters move along in sequences of age, appropriate development and difficulties.  Check-lists help pinpoint areas, followed by tips, suggestions,that will help development or maybe use alternative abilities if appropriate. These checklists are usefully labelled for circumstances and parents and teachers. And a chapter for ‘play’ and some helpful ideas, shows its importance for children.  For teachers, the settings are usually in classroom or suggested educational settings and look to be covering more options, some of which are similar to the ‘parenting’ hints.  The parent should be able integrate any of these ‘additional’ ideas into the family routine where appropriate.

Subjects covered in addition to the primary and secondary school ages are such as ‘Bullying’, ‘Helping the Distractable Child’, self-esteem, growing-up and ‘adulthood.  Lastly she has comment chapters on causes (not really sure), when should diagnosis be approached and lastly ‘differential diagnosis.’  Which includes such as ‘semantic pragmatic disorder.

All in all this book is an extremely useful book for explaining and encouraging both those with the varying degrees of co-ordination disorder and their parents, family and teachers.  As with many issues the various activities that improve (in this case, co-ordination) can be most effective if exercised at earliest appropriate age but should be tried even if the need is only recognised later.  Other techniques may be adoptable and successful, whilst understanding and support from within family and school could well have much beneficial effects.

Parents may well be aware of problems early and should find this book helpful from the earliest ages to help reduce potential problems later.

I would recommend this to teachers, especially in the counselling areas as well as parents and those with elements of Dyspraxia.

For a wide range of titles on S. E. N. visit:   BooksEducation website

subject:  education

Neptune and Poseidon

Neptune looked across at Poseidon.

“It is difficult to meet on neutral territory.  It is best we meet in the forests. Here we can be seen by all and they care nothing for us.”

Poseidon looked at the old man and his long straggling beard.  “It is always good to talk, we can’t always be at cross-currents.  It is an eternal struggle, a calm is brief rest.  Why meet?”

Neptune fingered the grey beard. “There is someone new.”  He looked at Poseidon through sea-green eyes, “Have you bred her?”

“Me?” Who do you speak of?”

“Of whom!”

“Who?”

“Anvil.”

Neptune watched Poseidon check-listing his memory, grew irritated at the glazed expression as the mind worked. “No.  Nymphs, naiads, humans, well more or less, sylphs and hobbits and such  like but not one called Anvil.”  He shook his head, at a loss.  “You?”

Neptune gave his beard a tug of annoyance.  “Why ask you? Why meet in this blasted forest if it is mine?”

“Maybe you forgot? You’re not so young anymore”

Neptune felt his water pressure rising. “You’re no cub anymore!”

Poseidon smiled, “But I have plenty of cubs I can play with. The variety is quite enjoyable. The coping strategies interesting. Keeps me young. You should have been more prolific, it’s fun.”

“There are already too many of us interfering in the lives of others.  The humans believe in us, in all of us. Isn’t that enough?”

“Well, its Romans versus Greeks.  We chose our sides and its up to us how we play them.  Chess is always a long term game.  Incidentally, I am probably older than you, and I’ve still got it!”  Poseidon, clean cut and in full belief of his status as a god felt remarkably calm as he saw Neptune wavering before him.   “Maybe you should talk to Zeus, maybe Thor or trot along to Osiris.  You never know it might even be Gog or Magog trying a stunt over here.”    He looked at his hands.  “I must change, I have someone to visit.”

Neptune began to regret this meeting.  “She created a storm.” He said urgently.

“Oh well done her!” Was the sarcastic retort.  No longer interested he stood and stepped into the stream that flowed between them.   Poseidon let himself relax into it.

Neptune watched Poseidon glisten and cascade downwards into the now golden coloured water.

“She caused untold mischief!”  He shouted to the dissembling creature before him.

Poseidon raised his hands, shrugged his shoulders and plashed as a golden waterfall into the fast running shallows before rolling into a golden wave that thrust itself away from the dark forest and along to the cragged shore line and into the sea as a final white horse splashing atop a crested wave.

“Maybe Medea and that Ferryman of hers have created a new force between them.”  Neptune stood, “Here, I have no salted tears but offer to nourish!” He spoke to that around him.

The broken trees twisted forwards.  The howling knots between scarred bark were silent as branches moved and cracked.

He pressed his trident into the moss and mould and down into the soil.  Holding the trident still he closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.  His exhalation produced a heavy mist that covered the stark trees around.  A second exhalation and the mist thickened, coalesced and droplets sank into the ground like a sheet of melted ice.

Neptune slipped into the stream and meandered back to his salty home, hoping he had not offended Vidar one of the  forest gods,  by allowing his vexation to settle on their lands.

see tags:  The Frinks

Apprentice of Split Crow Lane, A Graph Review

A Graph Review    55 with high points to 65:

Victorian True Crime:bodies graph

The Apprentice of Split Crow Lane

(The story of the Carr’s Hill Murder)

by Jane Housham

Published by Riverrun,    November 2016

Hardback. £20.00.          ISBN 978 178648 158 0

appr-split-crow-coverThe central theme is the brutal murder of a five year old girl and a highly researched telling of that story.  Another, all encompassing theme is of local history-cum-social history around the period which unerringly links back to the central theme’s characters.  There is a substantial gathering of background scenery covering: living, labouring, policing, legal, medical and even the ‘politiking’ of the time and years prior to the murder.   Plus of course the careful analysis of the written evidence, newspapers and reports of and around the conviction and its aftermath.

A map is included of the relevant area, useful for me as the movements of numerous people are specified through different sections of the book.

Details of the police work, autopsy and inquest are carefully collated from assorted libraries, National Archives and newspaper records and clearly narrated as events progressed.

It is interesting to read of these now-historic procedures and be informed how and when some changes towards our current practices came about.  Just as interesting is how the models of procedure were being established and how use of forensic analysis was developing.

Moving on, the book explores and explains the fledgling positions of psychiatric analysis and the also the magistrate and county courts.  The author expertly weaves the events of the day from numerous accounts, official or newspaper into narrative as well as using current knowledge of routines to balance the historic methodology.   References abound for referring to at the back of the book, along with a thorough bibliography and index.

From the explorations in this book the movement towards  more sensitive and scientific judiciary and medical (emerging psychiatric) systems is well under way by the mid 19th Century.   A more humane face of all is offered here than you might have expected if you relied on Dickens. Admittedly Charles Dickens was writing from aslightly earlier date and was depicting the worst excesses of a city (London bias). He was at the forefront, as were many at this period, of pushing society forward.

1815…. Edward Wakefield report published 1815. Report of his visit to Bethlem hospital where amongst other things he had ‘seen both men and women, sometimes naked, chained to poles and strapped inside harnesses that inhibited almost all movement’.  Leading reformer Thomas Wakley introduced a more sympathetic, ‘Humane System’ in 1841 which opened asylums to official visitors and a separation of violent and non-violent inmates plus an end to restraints. Additionally, more staff.  The movement towards better conditions and freedoms had been publicly advocated by reformers in the early years of the century and continued throughout.   Broadmoor opened in 1863 by when the system proposed by Wakeley was well established throughout the country.   (See page 179 for description of ‘life in the new humane asylum’)…… note…. Clare’s last asylum seems to have been nearer to these ideals than many other county asylums. perhaps his celebrity status as a poet secured him best conditions, not forgetting that he may have been getting visits from other well-known, and articulate, friends and interested/influential people.

This story extrapolated from notes, reports and letters of Cuthbert’s life in the asylum is compellingly drawn, the story drifting to a sad end with his family moved to Canada and the inclusion of letters from his father to the authorities at Broadmoor.

But this is not the end of the book.  Another, similar case is briefly discussed following with the legal result. More follows with the discussions, arguments even, as to where insanity lies in the commitment of crime.  Again Carr’s case comes into this arena and judgements and texts are quoted from what became definitive books of the day on where accountability sits.

Maybe more could have been said of the degenerative effects of STDs  as they seem accepted as widespread and to have had a marked effect on society of the day.  However as this seems little discussed in the case notes it is understandable.

There is a fascinating look at the reasoning and development of medical and legal definitions of insanity and movements towards considerate treatment of those considered insane throughout the nineteenth century.  The murder by Cuthbert Carr is the central case but later introducing others to demonstrate legal and medical practitioners’ positions in mental capability.  Press and public opinion is well documented here as well as police, legal and medical (asylum) practice over a period where Victorian values were searching for the higher ground despite the still harsh grinding of the industrial revolution.

And all topped off with an appropriate poem by Vernon Scannell.